I would like to start by saying we have had some really kind Bishops in the past. They are all human and are all going to make mistakes. I think that it is a problem that Bishop’s have way too much control. If I know what is best for me or my kids, why can’t I make that decision by myself, I am 36yrs old. Why do the Bishops who have no training get to decided what is best for my family over the advice of professionals. Can’t they acknowledge that it is out of their expertise and work with us as we work with professionals? Besides I can pray too, I can get answers too, my husband and I know better then the Bishop what our family needs. Can’t he listen to us? I know if he did or prayed about it he would see we are good people trying to take care of our family. He would know that we did nothing to bring these trials on ourselves. I hate it that people think it is something we did to cause our trials. It is our fault kids “go astray”. Have they never heard of Lehi and Sariah , or Heavenly Father & Heavenly Mother? I am pretty sure they were awesome parents and they had kids fall away…..
When I first got back to Rexburg my husband met with the Bishop and told him our situation and all the things we were going though. He explained that I was having a hard time and asked him to please wait a while before giving me a calling.
Two days later I got called to Achievement Days.
I accepted. I can’t shake that immediate feeling of “Bishop knows best”. The Bishop acknowledged that my husband had spoken with him but said that he and his counselors decided I needed a calling.
I mulled it over for a day or so and decided to call and say that I just can’t do it. It is hard enough to get through each day at this point. When I called I got the voicemail and left a message knowing if I didn’t, I would chicken out. No one called me back so I thought all was good.
After we accepted both our callings the Bishop approved a food order. The RS President came over and we filled it out. About a month went by and I hadn’t heard from her at all.
Later that night, after we made the food order the Bishop showed up with some church food. He said there is a man that is a non-member in our ward boundaries that recently went to prison and the ward was helping him by selling everything for this guy to have a defense attorney. This man had been getting food orders so the Bishop brought us food from this guy’s cupboards. Some of the food was open. Before the Bishop left, he said he would be calling the RS president to subtract from our food order the items he had brought us from this mans house. I had to throw away the opened food. I know nothing about this guy and didn’t want to chance it, especially with all our health issues. My family gets sick so easily.
About a month went by and that was the only order we received. We had also asked for a voucher to DI because we didn’t have enough silverware for the whole family and needed to get the kids off the floor. When I moved back here, I didn’t have room in the van to bring the kids beds. I gave them to a needy family in my ward in Oregon. We were able to bring mattresses and just wanted to look at DI for box springs and frames. The Bishop said he didn’t know how to do that and we never heard back from him.
Last week, my husband made an appointment with the Bishop to discuss our needs. We were desperate for food. The Bishop said he would meet him on Saturday night but he wanted me there too.
It was so hard getting out of the house to meet with the Bishop, but somehow I managed. The Bishop asked if we could open with a prayer and immediately asked if he could say it. The prayer started with, “please help soften their hearts so they will be willing to serve”………..I hate that word “willing!” I am very willing, just not able right now!! The Bishop began to tell us that he has good kids in the ward that will be good for our kids. I tried to tell him my kid’s strengths but he wouldn’t hear what I was saying. My kids were abused but they are fantastic kids with a lot to offer.
He said he was surprised to see my daughter at girls camp. My husband and I were both surprised at that statement. My daughter went to two camps last year! So this was her third! When I told him my 16yr old was excited that no one else showed up for activity on Tuesday. Because of this, he got all the snickers. The Bishop got defensive and said it was summer and that is why “his’ boys were not there. Isn’t my son one of “his” boys?
I mentioned my son had made a friend down the street and told the Bishop who it was. He quickly replied that he was annoyed by this boy because he had no umph and only wanted to play video games. My husband tried to ease the awkwardness of the Bishop mocking this young man and said “sounds like a teenager,” and laughed. Both of us felt so bad for this boy and his mom.
The Bishop then went right into saying he wanted to call me to the primary. After trying to tell him how challenging it is to raise traumatized children, he showed no compassion or understanding. I tried to explain my heath issues. He said he gets it, his wife works for the school district and so she doesn’t like callings in primary either. Okay….apples and oranges. Whatever. I told him I would be willing to do some graphic design, R.S. website updates or whatever. These are things I could do during the times I was feeling well. That didn’t seem to be good enough. He looked at my husband and said, “what about you”? My husband reminded him he DOES have a calling in scouts. The Bishop’s reply was something like, “oh yah that’s right”.
I told him how much I love to quilt and that often my therapy was quilting.
He said his therapy is RELOADING. He compared cell phones to guns, called himself the armorer and brought up shooting several times which gave me serious anxiety.
We asked if we could talk about the food & Di order. He said there are lots of people in this ward that pay “substantial” fast offerings and he wanted to make sure “THEIR” offerings were used properly and went into the, “it’s not meant to sustain a way of life” speech. He then told us to get rid of any extra “bling” and that he eats his own dog food…. Whatever that means??? I told him we pay our bills according to which one will be shut off next. After which he proceeded to tell us that he drives a 20 yr old truck, made the dog food statement again and added that he did go through a mid life crisis recently and bought himself a sports car. Huh?! Okay?
I tried to get back to the topic and asked if we could just please have some milk and toilet paper. He told me we didn’t need extra stuff or the coolest new things out there.
I told him that my 9yr old desperately needed shoes and he only had one pair of pants. He responded saying he would like us to meet with some guy in the ward that is good with finances and go over ours. He wanted us to fill out a financial planner put out by the church.
I asked if we could do it right then. No financial adviser needed. He said no.
The Bishop then looked at me and said he would like me to clean the church weekly with my kids on Saturday mornings. I tried to tell him that as soon as I get settled and my kids are in a good place, I will be the first person to sign up. I explained that I love service. That right now, I physically and mentally can’t. My kids need everything I can give them. He then looked me in the eye and said, “I hope you can go home and pray and soften your heart”. HUH? Soften my heart?
Of course by now I was sobbing and begging for him to understand what we were going through. He kept saying you will get blessings.
As I was sobbing I said please give us some time. He said over and over “it’s just an hour a week”.
I tried to explain what night terrors, and PTSD breakdowns were like and that I CANNOT commit right now. He then said that if I missed a week, it was ok.
Again I asked if we could please at least have milk and TP. Again he mentioned cleaning the church.
At this point I couldn’t take it anymore. I said to Bishop, “It is hard enough to get through the day without wanting to kill myself, how can I commit to clean the church weekly?!” I then got up and walked out. My husband sat there for about five seconds and as he stood up the Bishop, still kicked back in his chair, said to my husband, “shouldn’t you follow her?”.
After we left the church my husband pulled over and held me while I sobbed. We took our time getting home so I could gain my composure for the kids. We got home around 11 PM and got a text from the Bishop that said he was bringing groceries and signed it bishop. That was it.
He and his wife showed up around 11:20 with a few groceries.
I honestly didn’t know how to respond. He simply walked into my house! My kids were FREAKED out! I was too upset and sick to even come out of my room. I hid from my own bishop while he handed the groceries, in the middle of the night, to my kids. My kids asked for several days why the Bishop and wife came so late with groceries. It caused confusion and anxiety. They were really happy to have milk though.
To give the Bishop credit he did have his wife bring us dinner the next day. He texted my husband and said…..we are bringing dinner and the RS president will make a voucher to DI! All day I tried to figure out in my head how to connect with this Bishop. Since they were bringing us dinner I thought it would be a good time to try again. I thought maybe I would try and break the tension and put it back on me. I though it would be funny to shake his hand and say something like… next time we meet I’ll take a Xanax first. Well, only his wife showed up. I thanked her and shook her hand. She wouldn’t look me in the eye and would only talk to my husband.
A couple of days later the RS president and the Primary President showed up to make our DI voucher. Due to the devastating, traumatic meeting with the Bishop I was having a terrible Lupus flare. I was sick and they were cold as ice so it was so very uncomfortable. When we got to the end of the order I asked if I could look for a sewing machine at DI because I could earn some money. Mine isn’t working and I have eight quilts cut and waiting to be sewn together and sold. I can help bring money in that way. They added it to my order.
Before YW camp the primary president who works for Madison cares had picked my daughter up and got her a pair of shorts, sweats and a shirt from the crisis center so she could go to camp. Madison cares is a program here in Rexburg that I will tell you about later. She had nothing, due to a growing spurt. Madison cares told us to keep asking the Bishop for a DI voucher. They also encouraged me not to take a calling and to take a break from attending church. My physical and mental health need to come first so I can take care of my kids.
While we made out the order I mentioned that my 13yr old had the crisis center cloths so she got skipped on the voucher. I asked for socks and got put down for one package for the kids to share. I mentioned my 16yr old can find some lawns to mow and buy his clothes. At this point we are so desperate I am happy with anything. I also tend to ask for the bare minimum. It is so hard being on the receiving end. I don’t know how to do it yet. Of course anyone would rather be giving. It makes it so hard when you have to ask for help and you are treated like you are less of a person, its devastating. Later I asked if we could get two packs of socks so my 9yrold son and 6yr old daughter could share and my 13yr old daughter and 16yr old son could share. She changed it to two.
The Bishop texted and said we could have a food order. YAY!!! We had a food stamp card coming but could really use non food items like toilet paper.
I texted the RS president to see if we could make the food order. She said if I could be at her house at 7:15 am because she leaves for work at 7:30 and she will have to see if the Bishop will sign it and was going to the ward picnic after work and then it would be to late. No more food orders going in for three weeks because of the July 24th holiday. I said thanks and we will wait until next time. She said sorry and she will bring us toilet paper and asked if we needed anything else.
That night was the ward adult picnic. My 13yr old helped babysit for the activity. My husband worked and I was sick. Later that night the RS president showed up with the butter and knives and handed it to me with a couple of pieces of chicken. The kids divided the meat off the chicken but kept asking what the plate of butter was. It was so mangled and had so many knives that it was unrecognizable to them. I saw the hurt in my older kids faces when I told them. Yes, beggars can’t be choosy but come on at least take some of the knives out. I have been the compassionate service leader, I would have never taken that to a family. The next morning we woke up and our house, only our house, had been toilet papered. Does the whole ward know we are out of TP? Is it such a big deal that everyone knows, even the teenagers? I am assuming it was teenagers. I’m pretty sure the Bishop and RS president didn’t do it:) LOL
To be continued…. it gets more humiliating :(